If you haven’t read Part 1, feel free to check it out here before you begin reading this one.
Before I list off the remaining red flags, let’s do a quick recap on the first five red flags of spotting a bullshit fitness artist:
Red Flag #1: Lack of “credentials”
Red Flag #2: They are more concerned with being right instead of wanting to know the truth
Red Flag #3: Thinking a large following = credible and valid information
Red Flag #4: Thinking someone with a desirable physique = credible and valid information
Red Flag #5: Blindly using “old school” methods and refusing to change
I’m gonna dive into the rest of the red flags, but first I want to make a point about each one of these:
These are not absolutes.
I don’t want you thinking somebody with a nice body or a large following can’t be a great coach, not at all. What I want this 2-part series to accomplish is to make you aware of these red flags, so that it takes your bullshit detector to the next level, which will make it harder for you to be tricked or scammed by marketing tactics of people who don’t have YOU, the customer, in their best interest.
One thing that drives me crazy is when people talk about what is wrong with the fitness industry, but then offers no actual solutions to the issue. So, I’m also going to include a list of people I DO trust in the fitness industry at the very end of the article so you can learn from people who truly care about helping you, first, and making money, second.
With that being said, let’s give you 3 more red flags to watch out for.
Red Flag #6: Using a documentary or a best selling book as evidence for their claims
Listen, I’m a huge documentary fan. And I’m a huge reader of best selling books.
I think they can both give tons of cool insights into topics in a way that is more fun to consume than textbooks or scientific research papers. They can cause you to think differently about certain points-of-view (usually the director’s POV) and make you question the way we’re doing things.
However, more fun and entertaining doesn't mean accurate. You rarely have ALL the facts when it comes to these and it’s important to understand there is usually a story, purpose, and/or bias behind these books and documentaries.
They are created, edited, and rearranged in a way that pulls you in emotionally, which usually causes a strong connection between you, the audience, and the message they are trying to portray. Especially when you aren’t educated on the topic in the first place.
Some of you may have made the same mistake that I once did: if the author of the book was a MD (medical doctors typically receive VERY little nutrition education in their schooling) or let’s say, a best-selling author with a degree in journalism but sounded really smart when they discussed these complex topics, I would usually be completely on board with anything they said.
Shocker, I know. Who woulda’ thought a writer is good at being persuasive? ;)
Luckily, I came across other “perceived” experts in the nutrition field who said the very people I believed in so wholeheartedly, were full of shit. Everything I knew had been a lie, or at least only a sliver of the actual truth.
This made me think critically and dig deeper into what the available scientific body of evidence actually says and what professionals in the nutrition field have been using with patients and clients with much success for many years. This critical thinking and constant challenge to my beliefs are what allowed me to see the full picture just a little more clearly, even to this day.
To add, let’s use one of my favorite documentary examples:
Super Size Me, the documentary that shows the guy who binges on McDonald’s for 30 days and has serious negative health consequences. There are plenty of grotesque scenes of him vomiting, feeling lethargic and miserable, and getting bad news about his health from his doctor. By the end of the documentary, you feel sick just by the thought of eating fast food and assume there’s no way anything at McDonalds can be part of a “healthy” diet.
Let’s use another one of my favorite examples, to compare. One you probably have never heard of.
I want to introduce you to John.
John is a high school science teacher who ate McDonalds for 540 straight meals (6 months), lost 56 pounds, and improved his health markers.
How is this possible?
He made sure he got the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of each nutrient through the food he was eating at McDonalds, made sure he was in a caloric deficit, and started walking each day.
Now, before you think I’m an advocate of eating fast food every day in hopes to clean up your diet, I’m not at all.
The point is every situation, especially on a topic on something as complex as diet and exercise, deserves context.
These books and documentaries have so many other incentives and biases behind them, you just have to be extra skeptical when someone tells you just to watch “X” movie or read “X” book if you want to find out the “truth”.
Red Flag #7: Non-realistic marketing claims and tactics
First off, I love science.
I think it’s super cool and I hope you think I sound smart and cool just by saying I love science and posting Neil Degrasse Tyson gifs.
That's kinda' the point though, right?
If you associate my name/my brand with someone who values scientific evidence, you're more likely to believe what I have to say. I hate to use Dr. Oz again as an example (not really), but he just perfectly fits the mold on so many of these red flags, especially from the point I just mentioned.
This is an actual quote from one of his shows that aired in 2012 when he was promoting green coffee extract:
"You may think magic is make-believe, but this little bean has scientists saying they've found the magic weight-loss cure for every body type.”
So, if this were true...let’s say it really was a magic weight-loss cure for every body type. Don’t you think it miiiiight be all over the news because, essentially, we’d have found a solution to the obesity epidemic?
Let’s use another example. I had a nice little rant on my Instagram stories on this one a few weeks back. I hate to even give these guys any recognition, but it helps serve a higher purpose.
Curious if you’ve ever heard of Mike Chang and the Six Pack Shortcuts (the name already makes me want to projectile vomit)?
These people are marketing geniuses and it’s clearly caught a lot of people’s attention with 4.3 million subscribers to their YouTube channel.
Here's an example of one of their ads.
Let’s use this pic (really hope your eyeballs don’t start bleeding just by looking at it) to break down their marketing strategies that are so commonly used to trick you, the potential buyer, in the fitness industry:
- Appearance - Let’s start with him because this is what your eyes likely go to first.
He’s jacked and he’s a decent looking dude. He’s probably got the “ideal” body that many of you are trying to get, so this pic will instantly catch your eye and arouse curiousity.
Lastly, peep the exotic, underground, and mysterious Asian-looking background that just fits so perfectly with his serious look on his face (with his sick, messy necklace too).
He’s also Asian, which, to us from America, automatically means he’s probably smarter than us so we HAVE to see what he has to say.
The words (or “copy”) - this is what baits you in to doing what they want you to do.
First thing you see is exactly what they want you thinking in your head, “His Abs Are Crazy”. You think, “Holy shit, his abs ARE crazy, I wonder what his secret is?”
Then, right below that they have “New Fitness Breakthrough”. This creates even more curiosity because you’re convinced you likely don’t know what they’re talking about and you may be one of the first ones to know after watching their video and discovering this “new breakthrough”.
The best part, in my opinion... “Chinese scientists”. Well, thank God they’re Chinese, they must do the extra smart science experiments, unlike all those other shitty scientists who don’t know nothing, about anything (Family Guy reference). Again, we usually associate Asians with being really smart, so it makes sense that they might’ve discovered this revolutionary new “shortcut” to a six pack in China, right?
Finally, the ultimate scum-bucket, click-bait sales pitch: “Try this one weird trick and get ripped!” So, all you have to do is find out this one weird trick and do it and you’ll get a six pack? Yep, *CLICK*. Then you’re sent to their page where the marketing continues to watch a video that talks about all this cool stuff that’s supposed to happen, but you can only find out if it works by buying their product.
This all may seem so ridiculous that people actually fall for this kind of marketing, but it happens every single day.
The moral of this red flag is if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true. There are no shortcuts in diet and exercise, and life in general, to seeing results. Don’t let clever marketing trick you into thinking there’s secret information out there you just don’t know about yet. The “shortcut” you’re after is called patience, consistency, and time.
I don't have any shortcuts to sell, but if you’re interested in finding out the key points to getting a muscular and lean physique, check out my free ebook on the subject matter, HERE.
Red Flag #8: “Cherry-picking” scientific evidence to support their claims
When you look at the labeling of almost any pre-workout on the market, you’ll probably notice some kind of claim talking about how “X” variable was increased by 131% when tested by researchers in clinical trials.
You, the buyer, see this and are immediately excited because it SOUNDS really legit. You are a rational consumer and want your products to be tested in a lab and have actual scientific evidence behind this product you are using (go you!).
Unfortunately, what the label doesn’t say, is that these clinical trials are usually funded by the supplement company themselves and the only trials you hear about are the ones they want you to hear about.
To use a real-world example of why you should be skeptical of these claims, in 2015 a “brain supplement” company received a federal lawsuit of more than $150 million for falsely advertising the product’s ability to restore memory loss and improve brain function. 
Advertisements for this product falsely claimed it was “clinically proven” to reverse brain function decline and improve concentration and focus, yet, when asked to provide supporting evidence for these claims, the company had nothing to show for it.
The sad part is supplements are only one example.
Diet books, documentaries, ebooks, products, and even many services are littered with false scientific advertising. There may only be one study, with very little credibility behind it’s methods, that is used for an entire marketing campaign behind someone’s revolutionary new way of working out or dieting.
You often hear about similar “outlier” studies perpetuated in the media:
- “Nutella causes cancer” (not true)
- “Red meat causes cancer” (not true)
- “A glass of red wine is equivalent to an hour of exercise” (c’mon people)
Moral of this red flag:
Some people, especially those with something to sell you, spin science to fit their agendas. Just because someone or something says it’s backed by science does not mean you should believe it is credible.
So, what should you do now?
If you’ve read this far, you may be slightly confused, slightly angry, slightly surprised, or a combination of them all.
It probably seems like I’m telling you not to trust anyone and to be an extreme skeptic of everything you’ve once known when it comes to the fitness industry.
In a way, you’re 100% correct.
I would much rather you be a skeptic and demand more from people, than to be gullible and fall for ridiculous ideologies.
That being said, I want to do you a huge favor and save you hundreds of hours of filtering through bullshit artists in the fitness industry by providing you with a list of people to follow who are much smarter than me. In the list, I will only recommend people who I am completely confident you can trust and learn from. People who truly put helping others, first, and money, second.
If you want a pretty and aesthetic free PDF that includes all the names and clickable links to follow the people I have learned from and trusted for years that will save you a ton of time, click below. :)
I wrote this 2-part (here’s part 1) series for you because I care.
Not in the bullshit, salesy, cliche way of me just saying it to sound like I care about you, but because I have a complete disdain for people who scam you - someone who genuinely wants to make a positive lifestyle change - into wasting your hard-earned money and time into shitty products or services.
I don’t just care about you, I care about credible and helpful information being spread to the masses.
I care about making people think more critically (myself included).
I care about promoting the “good guys” and exposing those who are just looking for a quick buck from the uneducated majority.
Next time a coworker or long-time best friend asks you about a new product or turns you onto this new diet “guru”, please send them this 2-part series.
Intelligence, integrity, and identifying bullshit artists.
Please, do everyone a favor, and pass it on.
Wait! Grab your free gift before you go.
Thank you so much for reading. If you've been looking for something new: I’ve created a FREE 30-Day Manual called Ultimate Physique Development that provides a 4-Week Training Plan, Nutrition Resource, & Supplement Guide. Just click the button below, tell me where to send it, and it’ll arrive in a crisp PDF file in about 60 seconds.